Neil L. Andersen, Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
For 16 years the members of the First Presidency and the Twelve have been my examples and teachers. I have learned from their integrity and righteousness. In these many years, I have never observed any unbridled anger, any desire for private or material gain. Never have I seen any personal positioning for influence or power.
Rather, I have seen their loyalty and care for their wives and children. I have experienced their love and sure witness of our Heavenly Father and His Son. I have watched them untiringly seek first to build up the kingdom of God. I have seen the power of God rest upon them and magnify and sustain them. I have witnessed the fulfillment of their prophetic voice. I have seen the sick raised and nations blessed through their authority and have stood with them in moments too sacred to recount. I testify that they are the Lord’s anointed.
I pray that my spirit might be like that of Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin—whose passing brought about this call—a spirit void of any desire for personal attention, willing to go anywhere and do anything the Lord’s prophets would have me do, applying my full consecration in testifying of the Savior and building the kingdom of God until my final breath.
Our days are days long anticipated in the history of the world. The scriptures speak of things “the Lord ordained and prepared before the foundation of the world” (D&C 128:5).
The revelations tell of a great gathering that will take place (see 2 Nephi 10:7–8; 3 Nephi 16:5). Isaiah prophesied that the house of the Lord would be established in the tops of the mountains and that the voice of the Lord would go from there to the whole earth (see Isaiah 2:2–3). Daniel declared that it would be as a stone cut out of a mountain without hands (see Daniel 2:34, 44–45). Peter spoke of the restitution of all things (see Acts 3:20–21). Nephi saw that those of the Church of the Lamb would not be many in number but would be in every land and nation (see 1 Nephi 14:12, 14).
We live in these days of the Lord’s “marvellous work and a wonder” (Isaiah 29:14; see 2 Nephi 25:17). We have been blessed to bring the gospel to our families and our posterity and to assist in preparing for the Second Coming of the Savior. The Lord described the purposes of the Restoration “to be a light to the world, … to be a standard for [us, His] people, … and to be a messenger before [His] face to prepare the way before [Him]” (D&C 45:9). Our responsibility is not trivial; it is not by chance that we are who we are; the keeping of our covenants in these days of destiny will be a badge of honor throughout all the eternities.
I have been privileged to see the Lord’s hand at work across the world. While we honor those pioneers who walked across the plains to the Salt Lake Valley, there are far more pioneers living today. They don’t push handcarts, but they are exactly the same in so many ways: They have heard the voice of the Lord through the Book of Mormon and through their personal prayers. With faith and repentance they have stepped into the waters of baptism and firmly planted their feet in the rich gospel soil. As disciples of Christ, they have been willing to sacrifice for what is right and true. And with the gift of the Holy Ghost, they are holding steady in their course toward eternal life.
We must remember, my dear brothers and sisters, who we are and what we have in our hands. We are not alone in our desire to do good; there are wonderful people of many faiths and beliefs.
We are not alone in praying to our Heavenly Father or in receiving answers to our prayers; our Father loves all of His children.
We are not alone in sacrificing for a greater cause; there are others who are unselfish.
Others share our faith in Christ. There are loyal and decent fathers and mothers in every land who love each other and love their children. There is much we can learn from the good people all around us.
Yet we must not shrink from what is uniquely and singularly found in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Only here is the priesthood of God, restored to earth by heavenly messengers. Only here does the Book of Mormon stand with the Bible in revealing and declaring the full divinity and gospel of Christ. Only here are there prophets of God, bringing guidance from heaven and holding the keys that bind in heaven what is bound on earth.
Our knowledge of the divine mission of the Church should not bring feelings of superiority or arrogance but should take us to our knees, pleading for the Lord’s help that we might be what we should be. But in humility we need not be timid in remembering the Lord’s words: “This is my church, and I will establish it; and nothing shall overthrow it” (Mosiah 27:13).
Above all, we proclaim our Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ. All that we are—all that we will ever be—we owe to Him. While we gaze in awe at His majesty, He does not ask us to stay our distance but bids us to come unto Him. “I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him” (Revelation 3:20).
His words echo through the centuries:
“I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:
“And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die” (John 11:25–26).
Brothers and sisters, He lives. He is resurrected. He guides His holy work upon the earth. His prophet is President Thomas S. Monson.
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Let’s begin with what we know. Good comes from God; evil comes from the devil. They are not, however, equal forces that are fighting each other in the universe. At the head of all that is good is the Christ—He who is the Only Begotten of the Father, who created our world and numerous others. Our Redeemer is a resurrected and perfect being. I know He lives.
The devil, on the other hand, “persuadeth men to do evil.” “He [has] fallen from heaven, … [has] become miserable forever,” and now works “that all men might be miserable like unto himself.” He is a liar and a loser.
The power of the Savior and the power of the devil are not truly comparable. On this planet, however, evil has been allowed a position of influence to give us the chance to choose between good and evil. The scripture says: “God gave unto man that he should act for himself. [And] man could not act for himself ... [unless] he was enticed by … one or the other.”
The choice between good and evil is at the very heart of our experience on earth. In the final review of our lives, it will not really matter if we were rich or poor, if we were athletic or not, if we had friends or were often forgotten.
We can work, study, laugh and have fun, dance, sing, and enjoy many different experiences. These are a wonderful part of life, but they are not central to why we are here. The opportunity to choose good over evil is precisely why we are here.
Not one of us would say, “I want to choose evil.” We all want to choose the right. However, the choice of good over evil is not always easy, because evil frequently lurks behind smiling eyes. Listen to these warnings:
“Take heed … that ye do not judge that which is evil to be of God.”
“Ye must watch and pray always lest ye enter into temptation; for Satan desireth to have you.”
“Satan hath sought to deceive you, that he might overthrow you.”
The message is: Beware of the evil behind the smiling eyes!
I have known a few young men who began with every intention to stay firm in their loyalty to the Savior but who slipped from the path because they did not see the evil behind eyes that appeared quite harmless. They saw the fun, the pleasure, the acceptance, but they did not see the other consequences.